Highly regarded 3-year-old Honor Code officially breezed three furlongs in :35.66 Feb. 12 at Gulfstream Park for Hall of Fame trainer Shug McGaughey, while completing four furlongs in :47.78 and galloping out five-eighths in 1:01.49.
It was the first work for the A.P. Indy ridgling since Jan. 18 at Payson Park Training Center. He missed some time with hind ankle bruising, causing him to skip his planned seasonal debut in the Feb. 22 Besilu Stables Fountain of Youth Stakes (gr. II) and prompting Hall of Fame trainer Shug McGaughey to bring the horse to Gulfstream.
Honor Code, winner of the Remsen (gr. II) over eventual Miller Lite Holy Bull Stakes (gr. II) winner Cairo Prince, is expected to continue his progression along the road to the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I) despite the setback.
Also on Feb. 12, trainer Pat Byrne confirmed Almost Famous will make his next start in the Fountain of Youth, while trainer Kiaran McLaughlin said Cairo Prince will breeze Feb. 15 as he begins preparations for the $1 million Besilu Stables Florida Derby (gr. I).
Owned by Charles and Maribeth Sandford, Almost Famous finished a game fourth in the Jan. 25 Holy Bull while making his 2014 debut. The son of Unbridled's Song had been out of action for nearly three months prior to that start, and was forwardly placed throughout before tiring a bit late in the 1 1/16-mile event.
"He ran big in the Holy Bull," Byrne said. "We were really happy with his race because he showed a lot of guts. He ran hard down the backside, didn't catch a breather, and I didn't have him fully cranked for the race."
Almost Famous, a $500,000 purchase as a 2-year-old in training, had a 4-furlong breeze in :49 flat at Palm Meadows on Feb. 8.
"It was a maintenance work, a nice half-mile, and I'm really happy with him," Byrne said. "We came out of the race in good shape, he looks strong, and we're hoping to move forward."
Almost Famous has been a pace factor in each of his four starts to date, but Byrne believes his charge is amenable to different tactics.
"He doesn't have to be on the lead, he just found himself in that position (in the Holy Bull)," Byrne commented. "He's ready to go and we look forward to bringing him back and trying them again. Depending on the pace scenario, he can sit off of it."
Jockey Calvin Borel, who has ridden a trio of winners in the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I), will be back in the saddle on Almost Famous.
The 1 1/16-mile Fountain of Youth will offer Kentucky Derby qualifying points on a 50-20-10-5 basis. It is expected to attract Conquest Titan, the runner-up in the Holy Bull; highly regarded allowance winners Commissioner and Top Billing, and Hutcheson Stakes (gr. III) hero Wildcat Red.
Meanwhile, Holy Bull winner Cairo Prince will have his first work back with a four-furlong breeze this weekend at the Palm Meadows Training Center.
"We plan on working Saturday morning after the break," said trainer Kiaran McLaughlin. "Even though he's working, we're still pointing for the Florida Derby."
Cairo Prince raced four times in 16 weeks with three wins, including the Nashua (gr. II) on Nov. 3 at Aqueduct Racetrack. His lone defeat came by a nose to Honor Code in his subsequent start, the Remsen (gr. II).
Owned by Namcook Stables, Paul Braverman, Harvey Clarke and Craig Robertson, Cairo Prince made his 3-year-old debut in the Holy Bull, romping to a 5 3/4-length triumph in 1:42.16 for 1 1/16 miles.
McLaughlin did not nominate the Pioneerof the Nile colt to the Fountain of Youth and will train up to his next target, the $1 million Florida Derby on March 29.
"I'd like to see him go a half in :50-ish," McLaughlin said. "We're not looking for anything serious at all, just a maintenance work to get him back on the work tab. He's doing great."